News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
MONDAY, JULY 18, 2005


No governor should be paid millions for moonlighting

How much does it take to buy influence with a celebrity governor?

Bodybuilder and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger decided to forgo the California governor's annual salary of $175,000 when he took office in 2003. Now it's clear just what small change that was to him.

Documents that became public last week showed that in that same year, Mr. Schwarzenegger signed a five-year consulting deal with two fitness magazines that paid him 1 percent of their advertising revenue, with a minimum of $1 million a year. His title was executive editor of Muscle & Fitness and Flex.

California's ethics reporting forms, like Alabama's, ask for only vague financial information. In his filing for 2003-04, the governor disclosed only that he was earning more than $100,000 from American Media Inc.

The governor would have found last week's revelations less embarrassing if he had been upfront and told taxpayers exactly what he was making from AMI. But the whole arrangement was as wrong as it was lucrative for him.

Although he apparently did not violate any laws, he should have been devoting full time to state duties and avoiding conflicts of interest — such as the one that came up last year when he vetoed a bill that would have regulated performance-enhancing substances in high school sports. Nutritional supplements are a big source of the magazines' advertising, and he benefits directly from those ads.

Under fire, the governor did the right thing, announcing Friday that he will end the consulting deal and stop accepting the magazines' money. Sometimes you have to choose between money and power.

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